tv PBS News Hour PBS July 10, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: temperatures in parts of the southwest soared above 110 degrees today while thunderstorms and showers continued to pummel the deep south, raising the concern of widespread flooding. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. on the newshour tonight: as the extreme weather continues, we examine new data tracking this year's unusual run of heat, drought and even cyclones. >> woodruff: then, aids in black america. a special "frontline" report tonight looks at that subject. we talk to phill wilson of the black aids institute in los angeles. >> ifill: author david brody discusses his book, "the teavangelicals," about evangelicals and the tea party, and the romney campaign's effort to win their hearts and minds.
>> romney has three and a half years of president obama which is which has definitely helped these teavangelical voters come to his aid. the question is, they may be 80% there, but are they going to get there... what about those last 20%? >> woodruff: paul solman explores the prospect of eternal life with author, inventor and futurist ray kurzweil. >> there's a very good chance of making it through. >> when you say "making it through" you mean live forever? >> indefinitely. the goal is to put that that decision in our own hands rather than the medical community. >> ifill: and hari sreenivasan talks with wikipedia founder jimmy wales about the role the online encyclopedia plays online and off. >> woodruff: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy productive life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: the past 12 months
are the warmest ever recorded in the united states since record keeping began in 1895. that word comes as a new report from the national oceanic and atmospheric administration today says climate change, including human factors, has increased the odds of extreme weather. ( sirens ) the severe storms that finally broke the deadly heat wave in the united states blew in with their own set of dangers this week. in greensboro, north carolina, residents are struggling to recover from flooding and power outages brought on by slow moving storms yesterday. in fredericksburg, virginia, violent thunderstorms pummeled a cheerleading facility. >> we were scared, and we were just, like, praying to god and hoping that we weren't going to die. >> and we saw it. it just came in on us. >> woodruff: and in houston, texas, they sent ballplayers scrambling for cover. the scares come after high
temperatures are being blamed for at least 46 deaths and loss of power for close to a million people last week. for over 11 consecutive days, temperatures exceeded 100 degrees across much of the country. meanwhile, out west, wildfires fueled by near-record droughts have raged for weeks in colorado, forcing residents to leave their homes. nationwide, fires burned 1.3 million acres in june alone, the second highest acreage burned in june of any year. now, the national oceanic and atmospheric administration, noaa, is reporting the first half of this year was in fact the hottest on record, with 170 all-time heat records matched or broken. noaa has issued a report attempting to assess the role climate change, including human factors, played, if any, in six global extreme weather events in 2011.
about one of those, the report asked if the human influence on climate made the 2011 texas drought more probable? it concluded that it did. the report also examined climate change's role in last year's drought in east africa, heat wave across europe and floods in thailand. regarding thailand, the report said "climate change cannot be shown to have played any role" in the excess rain and flooding. for more on all this, we turn to thomas karl, director of noaa's national climatic data center, which oversaw the studies. i spoke with him this afternoon. thomas karl, thank you for joining us. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: let's start with the news. temperatures the first half of 2012 this year were the hottest on record. what's known about why that's happening? >> that is true. the temperatures the first six months of this year in the u.s.
are the warmest on record and, in fact, the last 12 months of the period may through june have been the warmest on record. why? we believe there is an important human component explaining these record-breaking temperatures, and that's the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. >> woodruff: so, how does that compare with what has happened historically? can you put in the some context for us? >> to give you an example, we have had warm conditions in the past. 1930s, many people are familiar with the dust bowl and the heat associated with the 1930s. what we're seeing today is equivalent or even greater than the temperature records that fell in the 1930s. and what we're seeing more frequently is record-breaking high temperatures.
again the more recent record even exceeds the heat that we saw in the 1930s. that is the warmth of the last year, the warmth of the past spring, last winter, last fall. and if you remember, the record heat last smer, particularly in the southern part of the u.s. where texas and oklahoma had such severe heat and drought. >> woodruff: you also released a study today looking at what last year's conditions were like and the relationship between greenhouse gases and human activity. what did you find? >> well, in that report there was a series of scientific teams across the world that contributed to trying to look at a number of selected extreme weather and climate events and to do an analysis to see if they could understand whether these events would have occurred all by themselves without human contribution or whether or not we could say humans clearly made the events stronger than what
they might otherwise have been. and in most cases we can actually say with some confidence that these events would not have been as strong or intense if it were not for the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. >> woodruff: and as i understand it there was some disparate. in the texas heat wave you found more of a connection but with flooding in thailand it was less clear. >> it's clear every extreme weather and climate event cannot be attributed to human activity or greenhouse gases. but there's an increasing number of these where they can. one specific example was the heat wave and drought in texas and oklahoma last year. the analysis just completed suggested that that event would have occurred normally with the kind of la nina conditions that occurred last year, but the severity of it made it much more
likely. in fact, the statistics suggest it was 20 times more likely to occur because of the current conditions we have with the increasing temperatures relating to increasing greenhouse gases. >> woodruff: la nina referring to ocean currents. but help us understand for the layperson watching the connection between human activity, climate and severe weather. >> well, the best way we can describe it, it's sort of like a baseball player on steroids. if you're going to break records home run records, you're likely going to have to be a home run hitter to break home run records. with someone on steroids, the likelihood of hitting a ball over the fence and hitting a home run increases, and this's what we're seeing. the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to warmer global temperatures, those break global temperature records and they have other
impacts like increases in precipitation intensity, more intense droughts. these are the kinds of things we're seeing more records with greater severity and intensity than they would might have otherwise been. >> woodruff: and what do you say to those climate skeptics who who say that some of these changes are simply part of natural cycles that have been around all the time? >> i would say part of that answer is correct. some of the events are part of natural variability. natural variability has always been around. what we mean by natural variability is you're going to have a drought, you're going to have a heat wave even if you didn't have humans adding greenhouse gass to the atmosphere. but the scientific evidence, the analysis done, the look at climate models and observation of data leads one to believe that humans in fact are making these events more intense and stronger than they would otherwise have been. >> woodruff: thomas karl of noaa
thank you for joining us. >> well, thank you, judy, appreciate it. >> ifill: still to come on the newshour: aids in black america; mitt romney and the tea party evangelicals; and wikipedia's founder, jimmy wales. but first, with the other news of the day, here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: eurozone finance ministers agreed today on the terms of a $123 billion bailout package to help spain's ailing banks. the debt-stricken country will receive its first payment of more than $36 billion by the end of this month. the e.u. also gave spain an extra year to cut its deficit. and speaking in brussels, the spanish finance minister welcomed the aid but acknowledged there's still much work to be done. >> ( translated ): during the next 18 months, we have to clean up the spanish financial system. that also relates to a macroeconomic aspect: the deleveraging of the spanish economy. that's the reduction of spanish debt and adjusting the prices of assets to reality of the market. we can do this thanks to the financial assistance.
>> sreenivasan: the bailout boosted the spanish stock market. other european markets were cautiously optimistic, closing with slight gains. in early trading on wall street, stocks moved higher, but those gains were erased by falling oil prices. the dow jones industrial average lost 83 points to close at 12,653. the nasdaq fell 29 points to close at 2,902. the price of oil fell more than 2% to finish near $84 a barrel. there was word today syrian president bashar assad has agreed to a new u.n. plan for peace. the international envoy kofi annan said it would focus on containing the most violent areas of the country first, then expanding out. annan made the remarks as he traveled around the middle east to build support for peace efforts. today, he was in iraq and iran, countries he said are both affected by the violence in syria. >> if we do not make a real effort to resolve this issue peacefully and try for it to get
out of hand and spread through the region, it can lead to consequences that none of us could imagine. so let's work together to bring peace and stability to syria. >> sreenivasan: meanwhile, in syria today, amateur video showed shelling in the city of homs as residents ran to take cover. the international criminal court in the hague today sentenced a congolese warlord to 14 years in prison. it is the first time the tribunal has ever sentenced a convicted war criminal since the court was set up ten years ago. thomas lubanga was charged with recruiting and using children as soldiers in his rebel army back in 2002 and 2003. the congolese ethnic conflict claimed the lives of some 60,000 people. a court in israel today cleared former prime minister ehud olmert of the central charges in his corruption trial. they involved allegations he accepted cash-stuffed envelopes from a supporter and pocketed the proceeds from a double- billing travel scam. he was convicted of a lesser charge of breach of trust. olmert, who had resigned in 2009 as the allegations surfaced, will be sentenced in september. he is also standing trial in a
separate real estate bribery case. the house of representatives began debate today on president obama's signature health care reform law in another try at repealing it. >> rather than reform health care, this law epitomizes washington at its very worst. >> here we go again, wasting time that should be spent on improving the economy and putting people to work. >> sreenivasan: the latest effort comes less than two weeks after the supreme court voted 5- 4 to uphold president obama's "affordable care act." this afternoon, republican joe barton from texas said the law is not affordable and will not provide better quality health care. >> people like myself oppose the bill not because we don't want every american to have health care, but because we want americans to have choices and to make individual choices about their health care. >> sreenivasan: but house democrats like north carolina's g.k. butterfield said the impending vote only distracts from more pressing legislation. >> we all know that this bill
will never pass the senate and the president would assuredly veto it. this is purely an act of political posturing, and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle should stop their obstruction. >> sreenivasan: the first house vote to repeal the health care law came in january 2011. >> on this vote, the yeas are 245, the nays are 189. the bill is passed. >> sreenivasan: three democrats joined with republicans on the measure, but that bill later failed in the democratic- controlled senate. this week's debate has also extended beyond the house floor. yesterday, the democratic congressional campaign committee launched online ads that target seven house republicans. >> your member of congress may vote to repeal important health care benefits for everyday americans, but he protected generous health plans for congress at taxpayer expense. >> sreenivasan: and today, the republican group crossroads g.p.s. unveiled new television ads opposing the health care law in three states with competitive senate races. >> obamacare cuts medicare spending by $500 billion, gives a board of unelected bureaucrats
the power to restricts seniors care, and raises taxes by half a trillion dollars. >> sreenivasan: the vote is expected to take place tomorrow. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to gwen. >> ifill: and we turn to the toll aids is taking among african-americans. that's the focus of a two-hour frontline documentary tonight even as the international aids conference prepares to convene in washington next week. the frontline special tackles the many strands of the disease and its disproportionate effect on the black community, including the rise in h.i.v. infection among heterosexual women. one of them is a woman named nell, the mother of five and grandmother of 17, whose second marriage was to a man she trusted, a deacon in her church. happy time. we had a lot in common, great sense of humor. we liked to do a lot of things together. the only thing that was kind of different, he was a raider fan and i am all daas cowboy fan so
that was a little... you know, didn't quite mix too well but we got through that. so he asked me to marry him and i said yes. so we were engaged for about a year. so we prepared... if you're going to get married in a church you have to go through six weeks marriage counciling. so we went through all of that. >> the first thing we do is go over the biblical concept of love and then we deal with finances, keeping the excitement in your marriage and then, you know, talking and how to communicate with your wife. six major subjects that it deals with. >> after the six weeks, we were fine. so then we got married. the children with there, the grandchildren actually... my grandchildren was my wedding
party. and my granddaughters were the little flower girls. so from there we took off and he wanted to go on a cruise and i wanted to go to disney world because i'm afraid of the water. so we went to disney world. and the whole while i was there i was sick. and i didn't think too much about it because, you know, the hustle and bustle of trying to get through the wedding and we both had bad colds so i was in bed basically the whole while i was in bed and couldn't eat and just really sick. >> after the honeymoon, months went by and nell didn't feel any better. but she settled into married life. >> so this one particular morning i was making the bed, making our bed and on his side
of the bed was his bible. so... i mean, i just kind of unzip it had bible and all of the contents of it fell out so when i was trying to get it back in... he wasn'there, i was trying to get it back in, i just felt like i had been invading his privacy so i was hurrying up trying to get it back in and this letter that i could not put back in its proper place it was a letter from the blood bank. so at first i didn't want to open it but i had this burning... it was like "you need to read that." i can't express to you what that feeling was, but it was like you must read this. so i did. i opened it up and i read it. and it started out saying... you know, informing him that he had been diagnosed with h.i.v./aids. and that he should, you know,
seek medical attention. and this letter was dated a year before we get married. so at that time i... i read it and i read it, i could not believe it. so... excuse me. but during that time, i still didn't put it together why i had been sick or ill or anything so i sat him down and i asked him was there something that he forgot to share with me before we got married? and he said "no. no. no, we have no secrets. i told you everything." and i said "i'm going ask you
again, is there something you forgot to tell me before we got married?" and he said no again. and i said "now i'm going to ask you again, think about this before you answer this time." and i asked again. and he said "no. no, no. there is nothing i... you know everything about me." and that's when i showed time letter. i said, well, did you forget to tell me this? and... what. at that time he said "i tried to tell you but i was afraid i would lose you if i told you." and i said at that time "how
could you love me and keep such a secret from me? this is the worst kind of betrayal that anyone could do to anybody." i said "this is not love." >> ifill: two weeks later, nell discovered she, too, was h.i.v.- positive. of the more than one million americans living with h.i.v., with one new diagnosis every ten minutes, government statistics show more than half are black. for a broader look at an epidemic many americans believe had faded, we're joined by phill wilson, the director of the black aids institute in los angeles. he's also featured in tonight's documentary. , phill wilson. half of these cases are black. why is there such a disproportionate impact on the black community? >> well, gwen, a number of reasons. one, aids initially was mischaracterized as a white, gay disease and as a result of that we got a slow start in the black community. h.i.v. is also the disease of sexual networks and so while we
were not paying attention, if you will, the virus had a chance to take hold in our communities and we have been playing catch-up all along. the second part of it is that the resources have not been in place in black communities to appropriately fight the epidemic and the third reason is quite frankly a story of a lack of leadership. only recently have we started to take the kind of ownership and have we started to experience the kind of leadership necessary to really fight the epidemic appropriately. >> ifill: is it also a factor in which there's a stigma stronger in the african american community? the silence,? the secret-keeping? the fear? >> i don't necessarily know if the stigma is stronger, but i do believe that the ramifications are more severe. i think that for black people we are in greater need of the sanctuary that comes in our racial ethnic communities. as a result the sacrifice that's
necessary that can happen when you're stigmatized can be more severe and i think that's how we experience it in a more severe way and that undermines our ability to talk about h.i.v. in an appropriate manner. >> ifill: you saw the story of the woman from california, nell. how was it... when was it that this disease went from being, as you dined, a gay white male disease to affecting women and children so broadly? >> well, you know, gwen, it was never really a white gay disease. it was characterized that way. but from the very beginning black people were disproportionately impacted. we respected 25% of the cases in the early, early days. and black women were always disproportionately impacted. and part of the challenge with that we're fighting is the disconnect. when you're talking about a disease like h.i.v., people don't want it to be about them. and when they're told it's not about them all the more reason for them not to pay attention. but what has happened in black
communities over time because of the way h.i.v. works and that no one is really safe the virus has had a chance to take ahold in our community and particularly take ahold among black women, young people. but it continues to be a problem among black gay and bisexual men as well. fill fill with you said this is a problem that could have been nipped in the bud long ago. is it being nipped in the bud now? is there enough awareness now? >> there certainly is not enough awareness now but we're doing a much better job than we were doing. i'm optimistic this film will help because this film not only addresses where we've been and addresses some of the problems but it speaks to some of the things that are working and some of the potential that we have, some of the hope that we have to bring about the end of the aids epidemic. we are certainly seeing a much greater awareness in black communities and much greater involvement among black
leadership than we have in the past. >> ifill: in this film magic johnson participates and talks about his virus and how he's lived with it for all these years. did that serve to make the disease more invisible in some ways? some people "well, imagine us's fine so it must be fine"? >> well, i actually think the work that magic has done in his doing is really important because, gwen, here's the deal: we actually can't end the aids epidemic in black communities. we have those tools and the message we have to get out to black folks is that we can win this battle. together we are greater than aids but there are a few things we have to do. we have to get informed about the disease. knowledge is a powerful tool. number two, we have to get tested. there's no reason why we don't know our h.i.v. status. many of the bare yes, sir that make it difficult by the h.i.v. status, they've gone away.
last week the f.d.a. approved an at-home test. today there's it's so easy to know your h.i.v. status. treatments are available. i've been living with h.i.v. for 32 years now. magic is alive today; i'm alive today because we are on treatment. now... gwen, the other part of the story is that aids... people are still dying from aids who are not on treatment and so i think that magic saying you can live your life if you do something, that's an important message and that's a message that we need to spread in our community. >> ifill: the title of the documentary tonight is "end game." do you see an end game in sight? >> i absolutely do. you know me. i'm an optimist. but i do see an end game. we have new tools that are at our delivery. i already talked about the diagnostic tools. we have new surveillance tools. we know for example if someone like me who's h.i.v.-positive, if we go on treatment we're able
to suppress our viral load, we can actually reduce the ability to transmit the virus by 96%. that's huge! that's a game changer. but we're not going to get there if people don't get informed about the disease, if people don't get tested, if people don't seek treatment and if we don't create an environment where we are not stigmatizing people. we have to do those things and if we do those things i think we will see the end game. >> pelley: phill wilson, as always, a pleasure talking to you at the black aids institute in los angeles, thank you so much. >> thank you, gwen. >> ifill: on our web site, we look at how the h.i.v./aids rate in washington d.c. compares to nations in sub-saharan africa. that's part of a partnership with global post. frontline's "endgame: aids in black america" airs tonight on most pbs stations. >> woodruff: now, a look at the
connection between the tea party and evangelicals. that's the subject of a new book, "the teavangelicals: the inside story of how the evangelicals and the tea party are taking back america," written by david brody, chief political news correspondent for the christian broadcasting network. i sat down with him recently to discuss his work and mitt romney's relationship with evangelical leaders. david brody, welcome to the program. >> thanks, judy, for having me, appreciate it. >> woodruff: we've heard of the tea party, we've heard of evangelicals, who are the team 5 investigates? >> well, it's a hybrid. these conservative christians who are breaking bread with tea party libertarians. a lot of folks hear the tea party movement and they say it's just a bunch of libertarians that want constitutionly limited government. i went to these tea party rallies and found out that there were many conservative christians in the ranks and so came up with this word. i figured i could call them tea party christians or christian tea partiers, i thought that was a little too radical so i went
with teavangelicals and they're breaking bread with tea party libertarians because they believe the fiscal issues are extremely important in this country and it's not just about the marriage issues and life issues. there's no chance of them co-opting this movement at all. >> woodruff: so this idea that they're two separate groups, you're saying there's more overlap than we thought. not that they all overlap, just more overlap. >> that's right. because really most social conservatives are fiscal conservatives and that's one of the points i make in the book. and i just make sure that people understand that once again there is no chance hear that the evangelicals, these teavangelicals want to co-opt the movement and make it about the life issue and the marriage issue. that's just not true. >> woodruff: how big a force are they in american politics? >> they're huge. they're the worker bees. right now raffle reeds groups, one of the teavangelicals organizations i point out in the book, they have cell phones and e-mails of 13 million teavangelicals right now in this country. they didn't have that in 2008. they have the cell phone numbers
of these teavangelical type voters, they're contacting them, distributing voter guides not in churnls but gee text message. and what's interesting here is that a lot of them may indeed pull that trigger, or that lever, if you will, for romney in 2012. it's a much different game here. the question for the teavangelicals out there is that they may have been not all that enthused about mitt romney in the g.o.p. primary but they will most likely vote for romney. the question is will they bring a friend and will they organize and i think that's the key. there's a difference between support and enthusiastic support. >> woodruff: i want to ask you about that because at one point in the book you write that governor romney does not have the trust of conservative voters. why is that? >> well, there has been a mystery of governor romney throughout the years going back to the time he ran against ted kennedy and positioned himself in a different way and so, you know, the evangelicals have had some issues with him over the past. but i have to tell you, just
recently, there was a meeting with 60 to 70 roughly conservative evangelical leaders who are now saying they're all on board with romney, this was an off-the-record meeting, they're on board but they admit that the base necessarily isn't all on board and that's the focus right now. >> woodruff: let me ask you about the history because you write in here that during the primaries, the evangelical leaders, the tea party leaders tried to reach out to romney, they invited him, he declined and sometimes didn't even respond. what was the relationship there? how distant were there? >> it was frosty in front of the camera but behind the scenes... peter flaherty, one of his senior advisors and has been his chief of staff for a long time has been reaching out for evangelical leaders for a long time. as a matter of fact, in the book i go into detail how romney actually met with evangelical leaders as far back as 2006. they were all around the table in his home in new hampshire
with anne romney and i'm talking about franklin graham and the late jerry falwell and gary bauer and a lot of folks. what happened was, judy, real quick, is that they all had sandwiches, they were all there and then what happened a month later they were all sent a chair in the mail by mitt romney and on the back of the chair was a plaque and it says "you will always have a seat at my table." so this courting has been going on for quite a while. >> woodruff: you're saying it's different in front of the camera? he didn't want to appear at the events they invited him to? >> because it's not in his comfort zone. you won't see mitt romney holding up a pro-life sign like a rick santorum might be doing at a pro-life rally. you're not going to see that. he's an economics guy, he's a metrix guy, a numbers guy. he plays very close to the vest, he doesn't show much emotion and these passionate social issues require emotion and romney's not quite there. >> woodruff: so what are these leaders? you say there's been outreach meetings that have started to take place. what are they asking governor romney to do and do you think
he's going to do... what do you think... how far is he prepared to go? >> i think there are two things they are asking for and they're asking his advisors who are relaying the message to mitt romney though i believe they'll have face-to-face time sometime this fall. one is a good vice presidential pick. that's extremely important. the second one is a stump speech that in essence takes a page out of rick santorum's play book and is able to lead a pro-family message based on judeo-christian principles in this country. a lot of what we've heard before from the "religious right" but not necessarily cloaked in religious right language but more with the morality and the immorality of what's going on from a fiscal standpoint in this country. >> woodruff: is there a sense romney is prepared to do that? >> i think so. especially as it relates to a v.p. pick. i don't think there's any surprise with governor romney that he'll let down the teavangelical base. >> woodruff: who are acceptable to the teavangelicals as a running mate? >> well, there are a few out there that have been talked
about. tim pawlenty would be one, that would be acceptable. bobby jindal, more of a tear-biguy. mike huckabee tear b tier b guy. i don't think it's as serious as others. governor bob mcdonnel from virginia might be another one. >> woodruff: you also write about the role of romney's faith, the mormon faith, at one point you said the mormon faith would clearly disqualify him from being a teavangelical. explain that. >> i just say it more on semantics than anything else in the sense that obviously he's not an evangelical christian, though some people-- and this is probably a separate panel here, judy-- some would say he is a christian but we won't go there right now. but he didn't really play to the teavangelical base. that was my point in saying that and because he didn't play to the teavangelical base quite frankly, judy, mitt romney was the luckiest guy in the world. they were all splitting and santorum, michele bachmann, they were splitting the teavangelical vote, he coasted right along and
president obama, he now has... romney has three and a half years of president obama which has definitely helped these teavangelical voters come to his aid. the question is they may be 80% there but are they going to get there? what about the last 20%? >> woodruff: is the mormon faith an ongoing issue for some evangelicals? >> there are certain evangelicals that won't vote for a mormon period. here's the good news for romney-- and not to stereotype folks in the country-- but the anti-mormon sentiment may be a little bit more in the southern part of the country rather than certain swing states where it be florida, ohio, michigan, colorado. whatever it happens to be. so it is a factor? yes, but there's an asterisk and i don't think it's going to make the biggest difference in the world today. >> woodruff: david brody author of the new book "the teavangelicals." thank you very much. good to have you back with us. >> thanks, judy, a pleasure. >> woodruff: so just how influential will evangelicals be this november? on our web site, read what their prominent leaders say about mitt romney.
also there, you can revisit a story about social conservatives in pennsylvania. plus, use our "vote 2012" map center to see where evangelical protestants are clustered-- many in the south and rust belt. explore that data and more maps showing voter demographics online. and coming up soon on the newshour, spencer michels reports on a constituency on the democratic side, voters who care about gay rights. >> ifill: next, newshour economics correspondent paul solman. paul zoll mono has been exploring the pro found social and economic changes brought on by rapidedly changing technology. tonight he checks in with an invent ere and futurist who takes advances in the medical field even further. it's part of his ongoing reporting making sense of financial news.
solman. >> reporter: earlier this year, we did several stories at a conference run by the futuristic california think tank, singularity university. the stories were about high tech's prodigious promise for the future: dirt-cheap energy; sky-high crop yields; labor-free machinery. tonight comes the kicker: far longer, far healthier, conceivably even eternal life. why would immortality be an economics, rather than a science, story? because the basic aim of economics is to maximize well- being, the greatest good for the greatest number. and a longer, healthier life is the most unambiguous good there is, says singularity's co- founder, raymond kurzweil, skeptics notwithstanding. >> people say, "i don't want to live past 100." and i say, "okay, i'd like to hear you say that when you're 100." >> reporter: assuming they'll be hale and hearty at 100, which kurzweil emphatically does. in fact, he firmly believes that at age 100 he'll just be getting
started. >> i think i have a very good chance of making it through. >> reporter: when you say "making it through," you mean, essentially, live forever. >> indefinitely. i mean, i can never talk to you and say "i've done it! i've lived forever!" but the goal is to put that decision in our own hands rather than the metaphorical hands of fate. >> reporter: now, before you diss ray kurzweil's prediction that death will become an elective procedure, note that he's known for being ahead of the curve. this footage comes from a film about him, "transcendent man." >> my name is raymond kurzweil, and i'm from queens, new york. >> reporter: while still in high school, he was invited on tv's "i've got a secret" to show off the computer he'd programmed to compose music in the style of classical composers. ♪ >> raymond, how old are you? >> i'm 17. >> do your parents know what you've been up to? ( laughter )
>> reporter: in his 20s, he invented a reading machine for the blind. >> they've invented a machine that can make any book talk. >> four score and seven years ago... >> reporter: his first customer was stevie wonder... >> obviously, it was a life changer. >> reporter: ...starting a lifelong friendship that led to the development of kurzweil's second major invention, a musical synthesizer that sounded like real instruments. ♪ >> reporter: in short, a string of breakthroughs that boggle the human brain when you think of how primitive computer brains were back then. but computers had been getting more powerful, fast. which got kurzweil thinking ahead. >> in 1981, i noticed this remarkable exponential curve, which was very smooth. and i extended that curve out to 2050. now, were in 2012; it's 30 years later, and were very much on that curve. >> reporter: what kurzweil had noticed, as illustrated in the
"transcendent man" documentary, was that all information technologies progress exponentially, doubling in performance while decreasing in size and price. double every year-- one, two, four, eight, 16, and so forth-- and in just three decades you've topped one billion. >> this is several billion times more powerful per dollar than the computer i used when i was a student. it's 100,000 times smaller. we can create computers twice as powerful as they are today next year because we're using today's computers to create them. >> reporter: while kurzweil's brain is nothing to sneeze at, he thinks even he won't be able to compete with tomorrows computers. >> artificial intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029. follow that out further to, say, 2045, we will have multiplied the intelligence, the human biological machine intelligence of our civilization, a billionfold. >> reporter: a billionfold from today? >> right.
that's such a singular change that we borrowed this metaphor from physics and called it a singularity; a profound disruptive change in human history. our thinking will become a hybrid of biological and nonbiological thinking. >> reporter: but for the purposes of immortality and therefore this story, so will our other bodily functions become a hybrid, insists kurzweil, as humans and computers merge. >> electronics will be so small that we will put computerized devices that are the size of blood cells inside our bodies to keep us healthy. so a new biological virus comes out, these little nanobots can download their software to combat that new pathogen. >> reporter: and so, immortality. >> we'll get to a point 15 years from now where, according to my models, we'll be adding more than a year, every year, to your remaining life expectancy. where the sands of time are running in rather than running
out. where your remaining life expectancy actually stretches out as time goes by. >> reporter: of course, as more time goes by, there will be more to remember. but kurzweil says we'll have the augmented brains to retain it. >> information that defines your personality, your memories, your skills. and it really is information; we alternately will be able to capture that and actually recreate it. so then we'll back ourselves up. people a hundred years from now will think it pretty amazing people actually went through the day without backing up their mind file? >> reporter: you mean, back up your mind so that all the memories you had yesterday you'll have tomorrow? >> it'll be there in case it gets damaged, or if you hit the proverbial bus and it damages part of your brain, you can recreate that. >> reporter: and to make sure he's ready, in good shape for the tipping point, ray kurzweil has been following a rigorous health program for decades now, ever since being diagnosed with diabetes in his 30s.
>> aging is not one process; it's many different things going on that cause us to age. i have a program that at least slows down each of these different processes. i'm constantly testing myself-- hormone levels, nutrient levels, and the usual things like cholesterol and c-reactive protein-- keeping things in what i consider to be optimal ranges. >> reporter: his cholesterol, for example, has dropped from 280 to 100 thanks to a strict regimen of diet, exercise, statin drugs and nutritional supplements. he takes about 150 pills a day. and then there are injections and i.v. drips forhe more exotic substances. >> i'll give you one example. in a baby, 90% of the cell membrane is made up of phosphatidyl choline. that substance is responsible for letting the nutrients in, letting toxins out, keeping the cell supple. by the time you're 90 years old,
the level of phosphatidyl choline you have will be less than 10% of what you had as a child. >> reporter: so you're getting shots of this? >> it's an i.v. if you're aggressive, even baby boomers in their 60s can be in good shape when we get to these more powerful technologies. but you have to be aggressive. if you're oblivious to it, then it would be too late. >> reporter: high tech c.e.o. carl bass, 55, is also part of kurweil's singularity crowd, but a tad less optimistic. >> i feel like i just missed out. >> reporter: just missed out? that's how i feel. i'm 67, and i think, "my gosh, if i'd only been born ten, 15, 20 years later." >> i feel exactly the same way you do. i become more optimistic about what's possible even if a little bit longing about what i may not get to enjoy. >> reporter: but wait. are there no true skeptics in the high tech universe? what about co-mapper of the human genome and recent creator
of a supposedly new form of life, craig venter? how old are you? >> 65. i wouldn't mind getting to 100. ( laughs ) >> reporter: are you regretful that you're going to miss the moment of immortality? >> i don't think we're going to ever get there. i know a little bit more about biological reality. what i have argued: if you want to be immortal, do something useful in your lifetime. >> craig venter is a brilliant, very innovative person, but in this instance he is not appreciating exponential growth. you really have to think about it and calculate it out, because it's not intuitive. >> reporter: in the end, though, if ray kurzweil is correct, a key question: if death disappears, how is the world going to cope with an impossibly large number of the living? by colonizing space, is one common high tech answer. and we'll be covering that if
the newshour would want yet another story about the future. with one proviso: to paraphrase my beloved grandmother, "we should live so long." >> ifill: if you're intrigued by ray kurzweil's ideas, we've posted more of his conversation online. he talked to paul about artificial intelligence, technology's changing role in our lives, and what it means to be human. >> woodruff: finally tonight, looking at the phenomenon of wikipedia and the questions around it. we turn again to hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasn: "let me look that up on wikipedia" has become such a common phrase that it's hard to believe wikipedia is just a little more than a decade old. in that time, the encyclopedic web site has become the fifth most visited in the world, with more than 20 million entries worldwide and almost half a billion visitors a month. while wikipedia has become an indispensable reference tool for
some, its methods have been criticized in the world of academia and research. it also flexed its political muscle of late. in january, wikipedia helped lead a virtual web "blackout" to protest anti-piracy legislation. today, all russian wikipedia sites were blacked out in protest of government action it says is censorship. jimmy wales is the chairman emeritus and a founder. he joins me now. thanks so much. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: so, first, the russian situation today. why can no one access wikipedia pages in russia or in russian? >> so the russian wikipedia community came together and had a big discussion and decided to go dark for the day to protest legislation that's being debated in parliament there that would create a censorship system sipl so what we have in china in russia. in the past russia has been quite good with no internet censorship or filtering.
medvedev was quite strong on that but he's not president anymore and putin's people want to put this through. so they're deeply concerned and trying to raise awareness. >> sreenivasan: a blackout is a pretty extreme step. >> it is. it is. it's something we hope to never have to do again. we regret having to do it anywhere in the world. but at the same time the community feels strongly we need a free and open internet to enable them to do their work. >> sreenivasan: so either in this case or others in the last few months when the community of wikipedia has a particular point of view how should i weigh the information i find on the service? you value neutrality a tremendous amount but when you have a point of view, what happens? >> absolutely. first, the neutrality of the entries in wikipedia is a sacrosanct principle. something we feel very, very strongly about. but that doesn't imply we can't speak out as a community on issues that are fundamental to
our ability to operate. we think that's very important so we take a very hard line about that distinction. >> sreenivasan: so in these case i think people are wondering how politically active are you going to become as an organization or as an individual that ends up embodying the organization? >> we hope very little, really. for us we don't intend to become an activist organization, that isn't who we are. we're trying to write an encyclopedia and that's certainly we just want to be left alone to do our work. so people shouldn't anticipate that we're going to start protesting more as we protest the environment or anything like that. we're going to stick pretty much to our basic work. >> sreenivasan: so what about in the basic work when the conversation or topic is controversial by nature. i see references that say "citation needed" but there's people that are questioning how can i trust this information if it is crowd sourced? >> well, i think that's an
absolutely valid question but it's one we should ask much more broadly. how can we trust any information? how can we trust various sources and we need to have much more education in the public about when can you rely oning? when can you not? the great thing about our operation is that everything is open to discussion, dialogue, debate. one of the great things you can do if you're not sure about something is go to the discussion page and see how people are debating about it. see what people have to say. and follow the sources and see if we're accurately reflecting the sources and if not tell us. that's one of our core values is to accurately report on what sources say. is. >> sreenivasan: so one of the things we hear from the news literacy project that works with high school students or college professors say actively to their students "do not use wikipedia as a source and don't copy or plagiarize from it." but that's one of the big concerns, you've made it so easy
for people to not do primary research. >> if people copy and paste from wikipedia, that's a stupid thing to do. your professors all read wikipedia and read it immediately. in terms of wikipedia as a source, that's something i'm not too bothered by. at the university it would be silly to use "britannica" as a source. use it for background reading to get yourself oriented and point yourself in the right direction but at the university level it's time to grow up and do research on your own. i think that's incredibly important and i agree to w that. >> sreenivasan: there's been some question about who comprises your community. for the past year or so you've already known about it and have been working toward trying to increase the gender equality. right now it's predominantly males and that ends up influencing the volume of content that's perhaps male-specific or male-tilted. >> absolutely. one of the things we know about our community is we tend to be tech geek males and that does have some side effects for the
content. not so much in terms of a bias, our community is strongly aware and really thoughtful about trying avoid bias but inherently it mean that there's topics we're really, really good at. our article about the u.s. beef standard is quite good. and other topics where we have less coverage because the people who are writing wikipedia, it's not their field of expertise, not something they're passionately interested in so we think by diversifying their contributor base and attracting more women to wikipedia is a core part of that. >> sreenivasan: how are you doing that? >> we have a couple things we're focusing on. one of the most important is just simply outreach. that we are putting out in all of our messages we want more female editors, letting people know that we're welcoming and that the community is really trying to appeal to and retain female editors. other things we're doing-- and this is more about diversity of all kinds-- is taking a look at the actual editor.
right now it tends to be too technical, too geeky to edit wikipedia. and i'm always very care to feel say that women are good at computers. i'm not saying they're not. but if you have a filter that only allows super technically proficient people, computer programmers to edit, most of those people are men. my father, for example, doesn't edit wikipedia and that's because it's too challenging. we have a new visual editor that's more like a word processing environment that people are more comfortable with. we think as we roll that out that will help diversify the community. >> sreenivasan: jimmy wales from wikipedia, thanks so much. >> thank you, great. >> sreenivasan: some of you sent questions to jimmy wales. find answers to ten of them in a video on our home page. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day. a new report from the national oceanic and atmospheric administration finds climate change, including human factors, has increased the odds of extreme weather. and eurozone finance ministers agreed on the terms of a $123 billion bailout package to help
spain's ailing banks. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, we'll look at northern ireland, where religious divides remain 30 years after a peace agreement ended the violence. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and m gween ifill. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: bnsf railway. and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.